The Working Time Regulations (Amendment) Bill (otherwise known as the ‘4-day week’ Bill) –  has its second reading on the 24th February.

The bill would reduce the maximum working week from 48 hours to 32 hours per week.

HRreview has gathered expert insights on the development of the bill.

Molly Johnson-Jones, founder and CEO of Flexa Careers, says:

“The progression of the ‘4-day week’ Bill has no doubt been accelerated by the success of the UK’s 4-day week trial. But where the latter proved that hours worked don’t equate to output, it seems counterintuitive for the proposed legislation to bring our focus back to working hours.

“Imposing a strict standard for working hours of any length – whether it’s the 48 hour maximum working week which currently stands, or the 32 hour week proposed by the new Bill – simply encourages companies to revert back to ‘time spent at a desk’ as a measure of performance. In any case, reduced working hours don’t necessarily add up to more flexibility.

“For workers who are focused on accelerating their career, flexibility might mean having the option to work additional hours a week if they choose to. For others, flexibility might mean having the option to take the afternoon off if business is quiet, to start and finish earlier if they’re able to complete their work in 24 hours, or even to take time in lieu if they’ve been working particularly hard.

“There’s never going to be a universal working week length that works for everyone, or even for any one person all of the time. So there’s little point in debating it. Instead, we should focus on empowering companies to cater to whatever options work for them and their staff from one week to the next.”

Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula, says:

“There have been mixed reactions to the 4-day work week trial.

“Some businesses (especially SMEs) have struggled because their working patterns are different from the norm – they’re struggling to communicate and meet customer/client demand due to being closed for a day where others are open. On the flip side, those finding it a success have reported fewer absences, improved retention, and higher levels of productivity.

“The bodies behind this trial obviously want it to be successful and are looking to lead the way towards a four-day work week becoming the ‘norm’. Personally, I don’t believe that a company would sign up to participate in the trial unless they saw it being a success.

“The fact that only 41 out of the 73 companies taking part responded to the request for feedback shows that things might not be as positive as we are being led to believe. While the statistic of “86 percent of trial firms wanting to keep a four-day work week” certainly makes a great headline, when you look closer it’s a different picture. Taken in the context of percentage of total participants in the trial, rather than just the 41 companies who responded, that number drops to just 47 percent. I would be interested to know how the other companies are finding things at this point.

“In terms of whether other companies are likely to adopt this trial, while there are certainly benefits for both employer and employee, I think many businesses would struggle to justify moving to this model right now, given the current economic climate.

“Many SME’s are struggling just to keep their doors open. Some could potentially adopt a 4-day work week to save money, but it would be unlikely that this would include employees maintaining 100 percent of their salary.

“As living costs continue to rise, there are extra pressures on employers to support employees financially. With a 4-day week, employees are saving on commuter costs, lunch expenses and childcare fees.

“Whilst a reduction in working hours will likely be favoured by many, such an outcome cannot be assumed. This is particularly important whereby the reduction in days increases the daily working hours or reduces salary.

“Reduced days have been criticised for not recognising the underlying causes of employee burnout and dissatisfaction, namely that their workloads are overwhelming.

“Oftentimes, employees on 4-day weeks are still expected to produce the same levels of work, so find themselves more stressed due to the lack of time they have to complete it. They may feel forced to work overtime during evening or weekends which, ultimately, can end up causing more problems than you started with.

“It will be interesting to see the full results of the trial and the wider impact on working patterns following its completion.”






Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.